Sunday, February 12, 2012

Crash Street Kids - Sweet Creatures (2011)

Not to be confused with the '80s power poppers of the same name (whose lone album, Little Girls, is a classic of the genre), these Kids were born in the 2000s. Sonically, they reach back even further than their titular predecessors and clutch convincingly at '70s glam. There are definite echoes of Bowie, T. Rex, and Alice Cooper, but the main muse here seems to be entirely Mott the Hoople. The band name openly derives from a Mott song, and Ryan McKay's vocals are often unmistakably a dead ringer for Ian Hunter, but it goes deeper than that. Mott was a complex band that never fit comfortably into the genre they're most known for. Always at war with itself, Mott followed seemingly incompatible influences (Jerry Lee Lewis, the Stones, and Dylan) that, when combined with David Bowie's fey glam cabaret, created one of the more truly odd hybrids of their era. Amazingly, the Crash Street Kids hit that same ambiguous point, so you get a similar war between '50s rock 'n' roll, Exile guitar sleaze, swirling Blonde on Blonde organ, pounding piano, glam androgyny, honking sax, melodramatic balladry, handclaps, and an earnestly poetic intellectualization of junkie streetlife, all while delivering something of a concept album about a teen hooker. The band may not yet have the knack for a killer hook like Ian Hunter, but songs like "Sad Julia", "Bang Bang (You're Beautiful)", and, especially, "Mary, Queen of the Rock" come remarkably close. Somewhere out there, Ariel Bender's ears are perking up.

Sweet Creatures on Amazon